Conference paper Open Access

Systematic Adaptation of Exploration Force to Exploration Duration in Softness Discrimination

Zoeller, Aaron C.; Drewing, Knut

When interacting haptically with objects, humans enhance their perception by using prior information to adapt their behavior. When discriminating the softness of objects, humans use higher initial peak forces when expecting harder objects or a smaller difference between the two objects, which increases differential sensitivity. Here we investigated if prior information about constraints in exploration duration yields behavioral adaptation as well. When exploring freely, humans use successive indentations to gather sufficient sensory information about softness. When constraining the number of indentations, also sensory input is limited. We hypothesize that humans compensate limited input in short explorations by using higher initial peak forces. In two experiments, participants performed a 2 Interval Forced Choice task discriminating the softness of two rubber stimuli out of one compliance category (hard, soft). Trials of different compliance categories were presented in blocks containing only trials of one category or in randomly mixed blocks (category expected vs. not expected). Exploration was limited to one vs. five indentations per stimulus (Exp. 1), or to one vs. a freely chosen number of indentations (Exp. 2). Initial peak forces were higher when indenting stimuli only once. We did not find a difference in initial peak forces when expecting hard vs. soft stimuli. We conclude that humans trade off different ways to gather sufficient sensory information for perceptual tasks, integrating prior information to enhance performance.

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